Skip to main content

Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

See other formats

9$                                                   XHB -aOiUrat. MELA.
and othei parts of the body that they seemed to be transited "by them, Sottst
long iron rods were actually thrust through their protraded tongue and their
cheeks, and in this ghastly guise and with drawn swords in their hands, with
which they on dealing and parrying blows, the pair of combatants peram*
bulated the crowd,
March 2nd.—At 2 P. M. ride over to Bathen for the Holanga mela, and find a
place reserved for me on a raised terrace at the junction of four streets in the cen-
tre of the village.   Every avenue was closely packed with ite densest throng,
and tie house-tops seemed like gardens of flowers with the bright dresses of the
women.   Most of them were J4ts by caste and wore their distinctive costume, n
petticoat of coarse country stuff worked by their own hands with figures of birds,
beasts, and men, of most grotesque design and a mantle ihickly sewn all over
with discs of talc, which flash like mirrors in the sun .and quite dazzle the
sight.   The performers in the c/iaupdi could scarcely force their way through the
erowdj -much less dance, but ihe noise of ihe band that followed close at their
heels made up for all shortcomings.   There was a great deal of singing, of a
very vociferous and probably also a very licentious charaoter;  but my ears
were not offended, for in the general din it was impossible to distinguish a
single word,   HandMs of red powder (<Mr) mixed with tiny particles of
glistening talc were thrown about, .up to the balconies -above and down on the
heads of the people below, and seen through this atmosphere of coloured
•cloud, the frantic gestures of the throng, their white clothes and faces all
•stained with red and yellow patches, and the great timbrels with benches of
peacocks' feathers, artifical flowers and tinsel stars stuck in their rim, borne
above the players' heads and now and again tossed up high in tiie air, com-
bined to form a curious and picturesque spectacle.   After the music came a
f>os*e of rustics each bearing a rough jagged "branch of the prickly acacia,
fitxipt of Its leaves, and in their centre one man with a -small yellow pennon OB
a long staff, yellow being the colour appropriate to the Spring season and the
God of Love.   The whole party slowly made its way through the village to am
©pen plain outside, where ihe crowd assembled cannot have numbered less
than 15,000.   Here a circular arena was cleared and about a hundeed of the
Ba&ea Jatals were drawn up in a line, each with a long bambu in her h&nds,
and cOTfemtimg ihem an eqml number of the bough-men who are all from the
netghkraing Tillage of Jw.   A sham figkt ensued, the women trying to beat
down Si® thorny boshes ml force their way to the flag.   A mam or two got a
eat ml^ face, Mt ihe most perfect good humour prevailed, except when an